iPad Game Review: Puzzler World XL
Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Puzzler World XL is a collection of "family friendly" puzzles brought to us by Puzzler Media, a well-established purveyor of puzzle video games and books. I know that's a lot of "puzzles" in one sentence but my only other viable option was "brainteaser," which I've only used once and I already find tiresome. The main games of Puzzler World XL consist of Wordsearch, Crosswords, Fitword, Sudoku, Codewords, Silhouette, and Spot-the-Difference. There are also a number of mini-games such as hangman, jigsaw, and picture quiz.
At first glance, Puzzler World XL looks like a child's game. With its large shiny buttons and playful sound effects, it?s easy to jump to that conclusion. However, hidden beneath this bright and cheerful veneer are some seriously challenging games. There are two modes of play In Puzzler World XL. In Quick Play, you get to select the game and level you wish to play, while Challenge Mode requires that you move through all the puzzles in order. If you're like me, and are more interested in some types of puzzles than others, Quick Play is definitely for you. Somehow, I couldn't bring myself to slog through Spot-The-Difference and Silhouette just so I could get to another Sudoku game. If you like enforced variety, however, Challenge Mode will happily make your choices for you.
I found the game play to be pretty standard puzzle fare. This is not a bad thing. You can't really do much with Sudoku or Crosswords, for example, without them becoming something else entirely. The variety and number of puzzles are excellent, and with over 1000 puzzles (including mini-games) there is very little chance of running out of puzzles before you run out of interest.
The interface Is non-standard as far as iPhone/iPad games go, however it is consistent with their offerings on other platforms. Translation: this feels like a Nintendo DS port, right down to the menus that require you to scroll by touching the arrows rather than flicking your finger. Everything about this game feels like it was built for a stylus. However, the large iPad screen means the buttons are big enough so it's not really a problem. I do have one complaint, however. The game does not save your progress when you exit a puzzle or quit the application. To be fair, it does warn you if you try to exit to the menu, however, the game inexplicably saves your progress AFTER you exit, ensuring that the game will remember with 100% accuracy that it has forgotten your progress. I am at a loss to think of a more useless save feature.
The graphics a bright and colorful and everything looks like it's been slightly over-inflated and sprayed with water. While this is not a particularly efficient use of screen space, and an adult may find him/herself somewhat self-conscious loading this up on a commuter train, I found it undeniably playful and whimsical. The backgrounds slowly animate as you play and all of the menus are animated. A highly polished Interface, however not to everyone's tastes, to be sure.
The sound effects consist of various pops, ticks, and clicks; all of which are subtle and appropriate. Trust me; with puzzle games, a little goes a long way. In-game music is limited to a single song played on a loop while navigating the menu. Thankfully, you are not asked to listen to it while actually playing. A glaring omission, however, is the lack of the ability to listen to your own music. A casualty most likely due to its Nintendo DS roots.
As puzzle games go, this one is packed with a lot of content and personality. If, however, you prefer your puzzles with a more standard interface and a little less personality, you may want to pass on this one. If you can get past the youthful graphics, however, you will be hard-pressed to find a more comprehensive collection of puzzles on the iPad.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 4 - A bit on the youthful side, but polished.
Sound: - 3 - Appropriately subtle use of sound effects, however no iPod support
Controls: - 2 - non-standard interface. Appears to be designed around the use of a stylus. No "in-puzzle" save feature.
Gameplay: - 5 - Good variety of puzzles and a LOT of them. Difficulty level ramps up slowly, which can be tedious in Challenge Mode.
Playing Hints and Tips:
-Be sure to read the in-game instructions for the less common games. They are NOT easy to figure out on your own.
Release Date: April 15, 2010
Buy App: Puzzler World XL
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